27, 2014
Crisis: Klein, Obama*2, U.S. Military, FBI, McGovern, Iceland, Economics
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
   -- Benjamin Franklin [1]
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
   -- I.F. Stone
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton

Prev- crisis -Next

Changing everything: how Naomi Klein inspired me
2. Bookends of a Presidency
3. U.S. Army Colonel: America's Military Leadership Is
     Dangerously Delusional

4. FBI Director Equates Protecting Personal Privacy with

5. Obama Administration Invents Language to Conceal
     Reality of War in Iraq & Syria

6. Ray McGovern Triumphs Over State Department
7. Iceland: Bankers Convicted, Unemployment Down
8. Philip Pilkington: Is Economics a Science? Dogmatic
     Economics Vs. Reflective Economics

About ME/CFS


This is a Nederlog of Saturday, September 27. It is a
crisis log.

There are eight items today. I think items 1, 4 and 5 and 8 are quite interesting, at least, but you may skip item 1 (that is mostly personal).

1. Changing everything: how Naomi Klein inspired me

The first item is an article by Owen Jones on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

If you were young and desperately wanted a break from the status quo, the year 2000 felt like a drought. It was a decade since Francis Fukuyama had penned The End of History, but the sense of triumph among the champions of neo-liberal ideology was still overpowering.

The death of the Soviet regimes had been spun as the absolute vindication not just of capitalism, but untrammelled capitalism at that, red in tooth and claw. In Britain, New Labour had not just conquered the flailing Tories: it had apparently extinguished any troublesome opponents of the political consensus established by Thatcherism. Bill Clinton – who echoed the New Right with his pledge that “the era of big government is over” – held the US Presidency, while the Bush era beckoned.

Naomi Klein was a bit of a revelation in that barren time, when alternatives to neo-liberal hegemony seemed as though they had been permanently emptied from the world of political ideas. Her first book, No Logo was an all-too-rare puncture of the triumphalism of the era. I must also make a few personal remarks, since Owen Jones also does so, and these remarks have to do with ages and backgrounds. (You can skip this section if you are not interested in my ideas, honesty and background.)

First then, I wasn't young in 2000: I got 50 that year. Owen Jones was not yet 20,
and Naomi Klein got to be 30 in 2000. But while I've read that Klein was a "red diaper baby", as indeed I was, she also came from a - compared with me - rather wealthy middleclass background (father: a physician, mother: a film-maker), while my parents were very poor during all of my youth, and also did not have much of an education.

Second, my family background was a lot more red than even Klein's: My father and his father had spent years in German concentration-camps because they were in the communist resistance against the Nazis (my father survived 3 years, 9 months and 15 days as a "political terrorist" in German concentration camps, where my grandfather was murdered); when I was born, my father was a member of the highest rank in the Dutch Communist Party; and my mother's parents were anarchists, as had been their parents, while my mother also was a communist who had been in the resistance, but who was not arrested.

In fact, I do not know anybody who lives in Holland with as red a background as I have, nor do I know anybody who lives in Holland whose father and grandfather spent years in concentration camps because they were in the (communist) resistance. (The only one I do know with such a background is my brother, but he now lives almost 30 years outside Holland.)

Third. My background did not help me in any socially useful way, although this is in part due to my own choices: I got very much interested in philosophy and logic in my teens, and this, together with the totalitarianism that was so pronounced in the Dutch CP, led to my giving up Marxism and the CP at age 20, in 1970, which was socially speaking stupid, since from 1970 till the early 1980ies this was the dominant philosophy in the Dutch universities, that also were handed to the students in 1971, which lasted till 1995, and during all that time there were yearly elections in the universities, with one man one vote, for students, professors, doormen and secretaries in the universities. [2]

Because I had left school at 17 because I found it very
stupid, I could not enter university till I was 26, when in fact I lived in Norway, with a Norwegian girl friend, and did not know much about the enormous declines in the education offered by the Dutch universities, so I - very stupidly - returned to Holland to study, only to be called almost directly "a fascist" by my fellow students of philosophy, who all had joined the conformists in the university, and the conformists were quasi-marxists and quasi-communists.

The reasons I was called
"a fascist" had nothing to do with my background, that I also did not reveal: Firstly, to call people "fascists" that one disagreed with was a habit since almost ten years amongst the quasi-left majority in Holland anyway; secondly, it was attached to me merely because I'd said that I thought Peirce a more interesting philosopher than Marx, and that was anathema amongst the quasi-communists who studied philosophy, while also I could not be beaten in verbal discussions. (I am a very good speaker anyhow, and also I did know Marx, and the quasi-communists did not: they merely pretended.)

Fourth, I fell ill on 1.1.1979 (when 28) and never got better, and I also got involved in four years of terrorism by illegal drugsdealers, from 1988-1991, who had been given permission to deal drugs by Amsterdam's mayor from the bottom floor of the house where I lived, and who turned out to be able to do anything they pleased, including threatening me with murder and violence, dealing in hard drugs, and gassing me: The mayor answered none of my letters; the Amsterdam police refused to lift a finger, and that produced 20 years of even more ruined health for me.

Fifth, while I did get an M.A. in psychology, with only A's, I was briefly before taking my M.A. in philosophy removed as as student of philosophy from the University of Amsterdam because I had dared to question the level and content of the "education" it gave to me and my fellow students (see: questions), and I was removed under much screaming of academically deployed degenerates who screamed - 16 fold, at least - that I was "a fascist" and "a terrorist" because I attacked their utter incompetence.

So...what shall I say? I am as radical as I was at 20, and have been so for 44 years, but I also know that almost everyone I have known as "a leftist" in Holland was in fact a conformist and a careerist, who only pretended to be "leftists" for precisely the same reasons as the same folks, who had been quasi-communists for at least 10 and sometimes 20 years between 1970 and 1990, became "neo-conservatives" in the 1990ies: They were conformists who were first, second and third interested in their careers, their careers, their careers. (And no: it is just the same with the rightists, except that I have known far fewer, in part because there were far fewer.)

And they made careers, because they were healthy, because they were conformists, and because they were for the most part sincere in only one thing: their conformist careerism. Everything else led to that, including ten or more years as quasi-communists, quasi-marxists, quasi-leftists and quasi- revolutionaries. (And I am truly sorry: Nearly all of them were quasi.)

Anyway. That is my background. It is unique in Holland, and while it has not done anything for me socially, it has taught me why this is so:

Because the great majority of the "leftists" I have known (like the fast majorities of rightists and centrists, indeed) were not really interested in philosopy, not
really interested in politics, and not really interested in science, and not really gifted either, nor did they have a background that disposed them to moral behavior: They were only interested in being fashionable careerist conformists so as to serve their own personal financial interests, indeed quite as the currently fashionable careerist conformists who are now "neo-liberals" (and who will change if that changes popularity).

You may disagree, but I have never made more in my life than the legally most minimal income, and quite often less; I have been terrorized for four years by illegal drugsdealers given permission by Amsterdam's mayor, I do not know for what percentage, to deal illegal drugs, which worsened my ill health considerably since the 1990ies; and I have been ill for 36 years without any help with my disease, other than dole, while my disease still is not even recognized by the Dutch bureaucracy, I take it because I attacked Amsterdam's mayors for helping the drugsmafia, although indeed I do not know for what percentage.

Also, for me the problems with politics of any kind are mostly moral and intellectual: Most men and women I have known, of whatever political inclination, regardless from the honesty with which these inclination were kept, were neither intelligent nor moral, and that is the basic problem of mankind.

2.  Bookends of a Presidency

The next item is an article by Eugene Robinson on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

President Obama began his presidency with a call for a “new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world.” He will end it as a reluctant but unapologetic warrior, using U.S. military force to smash Islamic extremists and the “network of death” they have planted at the heart of the Middle East.

The speech Obama gave in Cairo in 2009 and the address he gave at the United Nations on Wednesday can be seen as bookends. In the heady months after his election, Obama hoped to be remembered as the president who forged a new peace between the Western and Islamic worlds. Now, while not completely abandoning that hope, Obama says there first must be war against jihadist “killers” who understand no language but “the language of force.”

There is considerably more, but it is with Obama as it was with the hundreds of Dutch "leftists" I have known: In the end, he was and is and will be a fashionable careerist conformist, who cannot be trusted, because that is what he is.

3. U.S. Army Colonel: America's Military Leadership Is Dangerously Delusional

The next item is an article by Douglas Macgregor, who is a retired colonel of the U.S. Army:
This starts as follows: 

The Economist recently published an article with the curious title, “Brains, not bullets: How to fight future wars.” The essay’s theme is intriguing because it implies that with enough brains in the right places it’s possible for the United States to get things right, to immunize America’s use of force against bad policies, the wrong senior military leadership and the impact of special interests on an uninformed American public.

If this were true, it would be a revelation. Unfortunately, in open ended conflicts with weak opponents, against people with no armies, no air forces, no air defenses and no naval forces the mental and moral qualities of senior military leaders which are all important in war are suppressed in favor of compliant and obsequious personalities.

I think Macgregor is right - and again what he sketches is in fact the triumph of the nth-raters because they are conformist careerists, indeed quite regardless of the political postures they make.

4. FBI Director Equates Protecting Personal Privacy with Lawlessness

The next item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

FBI Director James Comey has responded to recent moves by tech giants Apple and Google to offer better encryption services on their handheld devices by suggesting that giving people the ability to protect their private communications from state law enforcement agencies is akin to lawlessness.

In recent weeks both companies have rolled out new software enhancements for their respective smartphones that make it harder for police or federal agents to obtain emails, photos, or call information that may be stored on the devices. The encryption is also designed to protect against fraud, theft, and other digital invasions. The move was widely applauded by privacy rights advocates, who in the wake of revelations about NSA surveillance practices on the U.S. population made possible by whistleblower Edward Snowden say that the American people are rightly concerned about the ways in which government agencies and law enforcement are using digital means to spy on their personal lives.

But in statements on Thursday, Comey criticized the companies. The head of the FBI said that his offices have already been in touch with Apple and Google to express the government's dismay and told reporters he could not understand why companies would “market something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law.”

As I wrote on September 23, when I reported on Apple's new smartphobes:

But you can't trust [Apple], and even if you could, the U.S. government may be crazy enough to forbid all encryption, or at least all encryption that cannot be easily undone by the government, as indeed the NSA and the CIA seem to desire.

And here is the first move in that game: The FBI's director speaks as the head of the American Gestapo, who insists that anyone whose private data are not fully surveyable by the secret services is breaking the law - which is not a law, ought not to be a law, and is in fact fascistic: No government should have the right to steal anyone's private data, and those who insist that they do, as does the American FBI, are under way towards fascism or rightist authoritarianism.

And yes, I do believe that, just as I do believe that one more 9/11 is probably sufficient to give Comey's his heart's desire.

5. Obama Administration Invents Language to Conceal Reality of War in Iraq & Syria 

The next item is an article by Kevin Gosztola on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

One of the bothersome aspects of the war escalation in Iraq and Syria has been the commitment of President Barack Obama’s administration to using language to conceal their war plans.

The White House has insisted this is not a war. The attacks on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are a part of a “counterterrorism strategy.” The US has not launched a war because it has previously been dropping Hellfire missiles on suspected terrorists in various countries. Those strikes, though they have killed hundreds of civilians and were questionable in their legality and success in bringing about “security,” were part of a “strategy.”

Yes, indeed. There is considerably more in the article, that is well worth reading, including this helpful reminder about "the Pentagon dictionary":

Recall, on July 23, 2003, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld sent a memo to General John Abizaid, who was the commander of US Central Command. Rumsfeld attached the definitions of “guerrilla warfare,” “insurgency,” and “unconventional warfare.” The definitions “came from the Pentagon dictionary.”

In the chilling documentary directed by Errol Morris, The Unknown Known, Rumsfeld explains, “It seemed to me that there are ways you can talk about what the enemy’s doing that help the enemy unintentionally and ways you can talk about what the enemy is doing that harm the enemy, that make its task less legitimate, more difficult.” He searched for the best words to that would benefit the US. And, as he told the press on July 24, they came from the Pentagon’s dictionary. He did not look at a “regular dictionary.”

Similarly, the Obama administration is using Pentagon speak when talking about this war.

Note that what Rumsfeld did, and Obama does, is intentional falsification of the real meanings of the words they use, which are in any good dictionary. And yes, this has been the American's government chosen policy, not to use the words they use in the senses that are accepted, at least since 9/11, and very probably before as well, for Gosztola quotes George Carlin, from 1990:

…Smug, greedy, well-fed white people have invented a language to conceal their sins. It’s as simple as that. The CIA doesn’t kill anybody anymore, they neutralize people…or they depopulate the area. The government doesn’t lie, it engages in disinformation. The Pentagon actually measures nuclear radiation in something they call sunshine units. Israeli murderers are called commandos. Arab commandos are called terrorists. Contra killers are called freedom fighters…

6. Ray McGovern Triumphs Over State Department

The next item is an article by Peter Van Buren on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

If you don’t know Ray McGovern yet, you probably should.

You see, Ray just beat down, in court, Hillary Clinton, the State Department, and a small part of Post-Constitutional America.

Who is this Guy?

McGovern is a changed man. He started out in the Army, then he worked for the CIA from the Kennedy administration up through the first Bush presidency, preparing the president’s daily intel brief. He was a hell of a spy. McGovern began to see the evil of much of the government’s work, and has since become an outspoken critic of the intelligence world and an advocate for free speech. He speaks on behalf of people like Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.

Ray McGovern was put on the State Department’s Diplomatic Security BOLO list– Be On the Look Out– one of a series of proliferating government watch lists. What McGovern did to end up on Diplomatic Security’s dangerous persons list and how he got off the list are a tale of our era, Post-Constitutional America.

Actually, this is here mainly (though not only) because both Ray McGovern and Peter Van Buren are examples of formerly quite successful workers for the American government who learned through their quite responsible jobs that the American government just cannot be trusted.

The story Van Buren tells is also interesting (Ray McGovern, then 71, was arrested in 2011 for standing with his back turned to Hillary Clinton as she made a speech)
but I leave it to you.

And in any case, both McGovern and Van Buren are quite capable, and it is for this reason that I have quoted each of them repeatedly in Nederlog.

7.  Iceland: Bankers Convicted, Unemployment Down

The next item is an article by Kenneth Thomas, introduced by Yves Smith, on Naked Capitalism:

The Thomas piece starts as follows:
Remember Iceland? During the high-flying early 2000s, its three main banks went berserk, paying high interest rates to international investors that accumulated deposits equal to more than 100% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and making loans equal to 980% of GDP. When the collapse came, Iceland took a route not taken by Ireland, Spain, and other EU countries: Rather than bail out the banks, the government simply let them go bankrupt. The value of the krona fell by about half, the country was embroiled in disputes with the Netherlands and the United Kingdom over paying off Dutch and British depositors, and it had to take an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan just to stay afloat.
Yes, I do recall them quite well, for in the early 2000s they made lots of advertisements in Holland, which led to quite a few Dutchmen investing in their banks, which again, after the crisis, led to quite a few Dutchmen demanding their money back.

This piece - briefly - discusses Iceland, and notes that, while it still has its problems, it let the banks go bankrupt, and prosecuted those who headed them, which overall led to a much better financial climate than other countries, that bailed out the banks, at enormous costs for their populations, and did not do anything against the banks' managers, who indeed mostly are still there and are still mega-rich.

And no, as Yves Smith makes clear in the introduction: The reason not to persecute the banks' managers, and not to let them go bankrupt, have nothing to do with the law or with economics, but have everything to do with the desire of the governors to save the rich, even if they were palpably and clearly corrupt, dishonest and fraudulent.

8. Philip Pilkington: Is Economics a Science? Dogmatic Economics Vs. Reflective Economics

The next and last item today is an article by Philip Pilkington on Naked Capitalism (and originally on Fixing the Economists):

This starts as follows:
The question asked in the title of this post is actually somewhat of a trick. It is a trick because it all depends upon how you define ‘science’. Often when people say that economics is a science what they are doing is defining ‘science’ in such a way that economics fits the bill. They can do this because there is no real, firm definition of ‘science’ that is widely held among philosophers of science, scientists or, most certainly, among economists (who are the most anti-intellectual of the three groups by far).

Well... I think the question is interesting and relevant, and the answer is a firm "No", but I am not impressed by Philip Pilkington's piece. One reason is that I am a philosopher, who has been seriously thinking about science for over 45 years now, and I do not accept Pilkington's (new) definition of "science", nor do I think it is necessary to use such a new definition.

My main reason why economics is not a science, nor is psychology, nor psychiatry, nor sociology, nor history, though each and all are presented as "sciences" in the universities that teach courses and award degrees in them, is quite simply that none of these supposed sciences has been able to come to truly predict non-trivial things that belong to their fields.

This should be eminently clear with sociology, history and economics: Very few "scientists" that belong to these disciplines foresaw or predicted the crisis of 2008, while that was enormous and very important.

It is in fact the same with psychiatry and psychology, though a bit less so with psychology - but even there, there are few predictions of non-trivial things that keep being true when thoroughly retested.

And it really is as simple as that: A supposed science that does not succeed in truly predicting quite a few non-trivial things in its supposed field (as do physics and chemistry, and also biology these days, and mathematics, although that is not an empirical science) simply is not a real science - yet, at least.

This does not mean it should not be studied at all, nor that one learns nothing studying them: it merely uses a quite clear commonsensical criterion to keep apart those serious intellectual endeavors that have succeeded in becoming truly scientific from those serious intellectual endeavors that have not (yet) succeeded in becoming so (although they eventually may: physics also required a long time to become a real science, as did chemistry and biology).

In fact, the main thing that is wrong with them is precisely the pretensions that these endeavors currently are sciences, while they clearly are not (yet), which again is mostly done for monetary reasons, and to help provide those with a degree in them - such as psychologists - with the chance of earning a good income, while in fact they did not learn much useful and probably true knowledge.

[1] Here it is necessary to insist, with Aristotle, that the governors do not rule, or at least, should not rule: The laws rule, and the government, if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn Greenwald:
It is more proper that law should govern than any one of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servants of the laws.
(And I note the whole file I quote from is quite pertinent.)

[2] This really was all quite different from any other non-Dutch university, which also makes this difficult to explain, also since neither the University of Amsterdam, nor any of the many quasi-leftists who made - very well paid! - careers there, wish to speak about the years 1971-1995, when all Dutch universities were formally in the students' hands, and were in fact run as Soviets are, generally by a combination of the communist and later postmodernistic students who had the majority in the yearly elections, with Boards from the Dutch Labour Party, which again ascertained that these remained in power all these years. (This was all undone by a new law in 1995. But by then the universities had been effectively destroyed for the most part, even though they are in name the same.)

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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